The Rallying Song (Chant de Ralliement)

The national anthem of Cameroon is titled “Chant de Ralliement,” which translates to “The Rallying Song” in English. It’s also known as “Ô Cameroun berceau de nos ancêtres,” which means “O Cameroon, Cradle of our Forefathers.” It’s a powerful and moving anthem that speaks to the country’s rich history, diverse people, and aspirations for the future.

There are two official versions of the anthem, one in French and one in English. Both versions express the same sentiments of pride, unity, and dedication to the nation.

Here are some interesting facts about the anthem:

  • Composers: René Djam Afame wrote the music and composed the original French lyrics with Samuel Minkio Bamba and Moïse Nyatte Nko’o. The English lyrics were written later.
  • Adoption: The song was used unofficially before independence in 1948 and officially adopted as the national anthem in 1957 (French version) and 1978 (English version).
  • Themes: The lyrics speak of Cameroon as the cradle of ancestors, a land of promise and glory, and a source of joy and life. They call on the people to unite, serve their country, and contribute to its prosperity.


Born in the hearts of students, then a rallying cry for independence:

Composed in 1928 by three students at the École Normale in Foulassi, René Djam Afame, Samuel Minkio Bamba, and Moïse Nyatte Nko’o penned both the music and lyrics for what would become Cameroon’s national anthem. Though unofficially sung in French Cameroon from 1948, it wasn’t until independence in 1957 that it became the official anthem of the territory. Three years later, the newly formed Republic of Cameroon embraced it as its own.

Bridging languages, uniting a nation:

In 1961, with the union of the former British Southern Cameroons, Bernard Nsokika Fonlon crafted an English version, officially adopted in 1978. Before that, 1970 saw the French lyrics undergo a revision, shedding words hinting at colonialism and brutality (“barbarie” and “sauvagerie”) and references to specific nations like France and the UK.


French version

Ô Cameroun berceau de nos ancêtres,
Va debout et jaloux de ta liberté.
Comme un soleil ton drapeau fier doit être
Un symbole ardent de foi et d'unité.
Que tous tes enfants du nord au sud,
de l'est à l'ouest soient tout amour,
Te servir que ce soit leur[a] seul but,
Pour remplir leur devoir toujours.

Chère patrie, terre chérie,
Tu es notre seul et vrai bonheur,
notre joie et notre vie,
À[b] toi l'amour et le grand honneur

Tu es la tombe où dorment nos pères,
Le jardin que nos aïeux ont cultivé.
Nous travaillons pour te rendre prospère,
Un beau jour enfin nous serons arrivés.
De l'Afrique sois fidèle enfant
Et progresse toujours en paix,
Espérant que tes jeunes enfants
T'aimeront sans bornes à jamais.


English Version

O Cameroon, Thou Cradle of our Fathers,
Holy Shrine where in our midst they now repose,
Their tears and blood and sweat thy soil did water,
On thy hills and valleys once their tillage rose.
Dear Fatherland, thy worth no tongue can tell!
How can we ever pay thy due?
Thy welfare we will win in toil and love and peace,
Will be to thy name ever true!

Land of Promise, land of Glory!
Thou, of life and joy, our only store!
Thine be honour, thine emotion,
And deep endearment, for evermore.

From Shari, from where the Mungo meanders
From along the banks of lowly Boumba Stream,
Muster thy sons in union close around thee,
Mighty as the Buea Mountain be their team;
Instil in them the love of gentle ways,
Regret for errors of the past;
Foster, for Mother Africa, a loyalty
That true shall remain to the last.


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